Monday, May 01, 2006

Koi aam baat nahin

There is a new ad for Maaza which I find rather sweet. It features Satish Shah as the chowkidaar of an aam ka baag, reminiscing about the good old days when kids tried to sneak in and steal the fruit. And couples would romance each other under the trees.

Now, it seems he has no work because everyone is happy drinking new Maaza with Alphonso. So that's what he does now - sell Maaza instead of mangoes! In fact the trees itself are now laden with Maazas...A bit of a creative leap but well, that's advertising for you.

This ad actually brought back memories of the summer I spent in a small town which was then more like a village, where the chief attraction was - eating mangoes. Now people in Bombay swear by Alphonso, in UP they swear by langda and there are a hundred other varieties in between.

But the mangoes at this place - Seoni in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh - were the original 'maaza'. A breed of mangoes - called Chausa - which were something quite unique.

As in all mango-eating rituals, first comes the science of selection. You have to keep a watch over the fruit to know which is 'ripe enough'. These were then dumped into bucketsful of water, to "reduce the heat". The difference with Chausa is that you don't cut it. Simply mash up the fruit between your palms, make a small hole on the top and then drink up.

It is a most amazing mango experience. The kind that makes you quite sticky and orange. The after-effects of one too many were some distressing heat boils. But, well, worth the inconvenience!

I have never seen this mango in Bombay. I'm told Chausa is kind of dying out - that it's not a variety which is in much demand for export. Hence, no new trees are being planted. Sad, I say! I have a good mind to pay a visit to Seoni one summer and taste another bucketful.

On a related note, there was a piece in DNA last week on what certainly looks like a trend that may take off. A Thane couple gives children a feel of old Maharastrian customs by taking them to a village to spend a week.

Nitin Karkare, a Thanekar, and his wife Shilpa are taking children from the city to their roots. Their summer camp called Mamacha Gavi Jauya ('Let's visit uncle's village') takes kids to their 200 year old wada (home) at Tural village in Konkan.

Among the many 'activities': Children are thrown into the village pond, play games like Lagori,"Aatya Phatya" and even ride on a bullock cart. There are camps for adults and senior citizens as well. Check out their pretty neat website.

Yup, the "native place" we all once took for granted is fast disappearing. I, for one, have no relatives left in what you would call a true-blue village. Even those in small towns lead lives not very different from mine, with all modern conveniences.

But no point crying over packaged milk. Cows, ponds and mango orchards still exist. You'll just have to pay to enjoy them now...

(mango pic courtesy Kyle's travel site)

28 comments:

  1. Ad might backfire - the picture it is putting in everyone's heads is that of ripe mangoes from orchards. Maaza simply cannot be a substitute for THAT.

    My best mango expirience was when my grandfather made mango milkshake while I sucked the seed clean.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The rustic holidays idea is quite interesting. Great differentiation strategy. Keep 'em coming.
    Regards,
    Shantanu

    ReplyDelete
  3. My "native village" is unfortunately (or fortunately) Mumbai...so returning to my rustic roots is not possible. Sigh!

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  4. I liked the ad too....the BGM is also nice...wonder if someone noticed it!

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  5. Lovely post!!!!!

    Chausa is a great pick!!! Thought it scores above the malihabaadi dushehris and langdas n also my all time favorite.

    There's nothing like chausa being unique to Seoni. You can get plenty of 'em in U.P.'s Terai too but over the years as you've pointed out the no.s have dwindled. Unfortunately the masses in India aren't aware that such a breed exists...talkin of masses, how many of us include fruits in our diet??

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  6. Rashmi... me first time here...
    nice blog on Mangoes...

    BTW - Mangoes in UP are Dashehri or Dasehri...(more specifically - Malihabad)... and if I am not wrong Langda are more in bengals... though most of the breeds can be found in any part of the country now a days...

    PS: blogrolled you...

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  7. Chausa choose kar kaya jata hai..the description of eating a chausa was interesting :)
    Infact the desi aam which is absolutely a tiny and juicy mango is the most fun to eat...
    Malihabadi dusehra is a sweet bliss too...my favourite.
    well aam ras, aam pana, mango shake..I wish to blog on mangoes now...

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  8. chaos...I've never seen a dasehri in the south...ppl there just dont know what a dusehri is. ask Banarasis n they'll tell you what langda means to them...b4 you think it belonged to Bengal

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  9. castelino... yup it's very difficult to find dusehri in south... and regarding langda... i have little info to comment ... just that it's not found (or rather grown) in central and western UP...

    ReplyDelete
  10. hello rashmi, I check ur blog regularly...but I can't open the webpage of JAM...is there any problwm with it?????

    I have also linked urs to mine...hope it's ok with u

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow,
    what a mouth watering post.
    You reminded me of the day when I was in Hostel in Karjat(raigad District). There was a mango bagh where we used to go around and tell the keeper to pluck the fresh mangoes.We used to eat the mangoes there and loiter around whole afternoon.

    i just love mangoes.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Rashmi,
    In all fairness Rashmi, Is this an Ad that we should be impressed with. Can anything substitute the pleasure of having real mango. Something that we eat after heavy work in childhood (throw stones, use all sorts of ingeneous means for plucking mangoes). All those days make my mouth water. Is the younger generation not missing something by drinking maaza and not having the real experience. Isn't this whole ad a bit SAD? It is like the ad where coke tries to sell itself as a drink that is better and cheaper than water? Can it ever be better than drinking water?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Rashmi,

    I can appreciate ur longing for 'Chausa' mangoes.I grew up in a small village and we have a mango orchard in there.We used to spend our summer hols in that orchard,such was the charm of it.Believe me those were the days I miss the most.As far as the ad is concerned I think it tries to play on the 'Go Back To Root'sentiment but the creativity is appreciable.

    ReplyDelete
  14. hey rashmi, dropped in for the first time. nothing like a messy mango-eating session. as for the rustic life, i think the best part about it is that the joys are so simple.

    thanks for a nice post!

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  15. Yummy post :-)
    As for rusticholidays, if the real experience is anything close to what the site potrays, it should definitely be worth a go.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey, I've got a mind-blowing writer here for you... this piece might or might not sway you. His name is Tanmay.

    www.xanga.com/phifft


    Rejuvenation

    4 years down the line, we were still together. Colourless romance, quotidian talks and a peerless sense of blah now chevyed our relationship.

    Lets do something, I thought.

    I had always been the more daring and adventuresome between the two of us. What I planned to do could not be bracketted into either of those epithets. I phrased it as 'an un-called for necessity'.

    The phone rang. I hated her caller tune, stupid Pussy Cat Dolls.

    "Hallo... what you doing ?!"

    "Oh nothing.. just had my lunch break.. getting back to work now.."

    "Allright. Listen... call home and tell them you wont be home for dinner. Im taking you out."

    "Dinner ?!"

    "Yeah... well.. lets call it a date shall we ?!"

    "Its been almost a year since we went on our last proper date. Are you allright ?! Did you eat out of the garbage can again ?!"

    "For the mother of goats, I did NOT eat out of the garbage can."

    "Really ?!"

    "Okay fine I did...but there was nothing to eat and I hadnt eaten in two days... will you cut it out ?! Im trying to tell you something..."

    "Fine fine... go green.."

    "So yeah, lets call it a date. You know, for old times sake. You get ready by 9, and I'll pick you up"

    "Allright..."

    I could sense she was rolling her eyes.

    "See you at 8 then ?!"

    "You said 9 !!"

    "Oh right.. sorry sorry.. see you at 9... chalo..and listen..."

    "Hmm ?!"

    "It *is* a date yeah ?! Look your best..."

    "And what do you mean by that ?!"

    " Haha.. by THAT, I meant, put on anything.. would look your best anyways.. my little cheese burger you !! "

    "Haha... allright..idiot... see you at 9"

    "Yeha , bye!"

    *beep*.


    At 9 I picked her up, took her to dinner. She was right, I had gone crazy. I had almost forgotten what a little bit of effort could DO to our relationship.

    She, like always, looked stunning, in black. And I, like always, looked stupid without doing my hair.

    We both pretended as if we were on one of "those" dates. The ones that we went on when we first started going out. The dates when we discovered stuff about each other and ourselves. The dates where we spoke about life, philosophies, beliefs. Yeah, and while pretending to do so, I guess somewhere down the line, we did discover a little bit more about ourselves.

    Dinner lasted till about 11:30. The best two and a half hours in a very very long time. And all the while, I kept wondering, why was it again that I didn't do this before ?! Why was it again that I let things go so dry ?! Did I forget how stunning she *actually* is ?!

    I decided to push things a little further.

    "Umm.. listen.. call home and tell mom that you won't be home for the night..."

    "And *why* exactly do you want me to do that ?!"

    "Because we are going for a *long* drive.."

    "Tanmay, I have work tommorow..."

    "This will be worth it... just you call.. "

    "Oh allright..What time should I say I'll be back.."

    "6 am"

    "Hmf...Okay..I dont know if mom will let me though..."

    "Oh don't worry...She trusts me..." I grinned.

    She called. Said she's staying over at my place. I loved how cool things were between mine and her family.

    I re-fueled. I loved the idea of an all night drive.

    We started off at Andheri.... Fame Adlabs. Our first date. Conversation triggered as to how in-appropriate the movie *Hulk* was for a first date. My arguement - Not if you are a super cool geek it aint ! Hell, it could hardly be a date. A sort of get together of sorts. Err.. between a guy.. and a girl. And some popcorn. Is that a date ?!

    She sighed *boys*

    Nevertheless, it brought back a lot of memories. I could see her grinning. The date might have sucked, but thinking about it now, made it look so cute, no ?!

    *Sigh* Girls...

    Soon came Bandra... Mocha, hill road.

    Okay c'mon, late by two hours is NOT a big deal. Yeah, so what if it was raining. And it really was stupid of you to not carry your umbrella. You really can't predict the weather you know....

    She sighed... *boys* ..

    Yeah well, c'mon. You can't deny that those were some really *pretty* flowers I got you on the way.... c'mon, I know you liked them and I know you secretly picked them up from the garbage at Mocha after you'd thrown them in anger.....

    She was grinning. Looks so stupidly funny (and cute) no now ?!

    *Sigh*.. Girls..


    Next up, we reached town. Steered around to St. Xaviers College... her JC. Our first kiss.

    You know, it would have been a LOT better if it weren't raining again...Whadyu mean the basketball court was an inappropriate place ?! Oh c'mon, nobody was around.. it was dark... you know, I thought girls liked such stuff..... Whadyu mean what if we were caught?! You'd think I wasn't prepared ha... Course I was.. a nice hundred dollar bill ready to stuff into the watchmans hand... oh there you go again...

    She sighed... *boys*..

    Oh c'mon.... point being DID we get caught ?! No right ? ... and you cannot deny that it was one helluva kiss...and... well..err.. okay, okay... Ill stop... You can blush while thinking about it, but you cant say it out loud.. geez...

    *Sigh*... Girls...


    We drove around various spots... reliving memories.. The conversations that we had throughout the night was fun. You know, the ones filled with laughter, nostalgia... Yessir, read about such stuff, heard stories about it, but never really knew how it would be to fall in love again. It was happening, it was real.

    Rejuvenation. Falling in love.

    Again.




    www.xanga.com/phifft

    ReplyDelete
  17. hi Rashmi,

    the post reminds me of my own mango eating experience while i was at lucknow. one of my friends, Atif, belonging to a prominent family of Lucknow once took me to the orchards of Malihabad, a 35-40km drive from lucknow, passing enroute to places like kakori (famous for its kakori kabobs). we reached the Bhadaura house in Malihabad around noon. the Kothi belonging to his friend ashar ali khan, to whom also belonged the entire bhadaura village (as expected they are also nawabs!)Since we didn't know the route to the haveli, we asked for directions from 'paanwallahs' to 'chaiwallahs', right from the outskirts of lucknow. the surprising thing was everyone seemed to know details about them while we only knew that it was somewhere in Malihabad.

    Once in the mango 'bageecha', we had a field day, savouring the many varieties of mango, can't even remember. Few of the trees , believe it or not!, had on them over 300 different varities. And some of them, as claimed, were the lone variety of mango in the world!
    Knowing this fact multiplied the taste, for we were presumably eating the mango, which wasn't to be found anywhere else on earth!
    In fact Josh malihabadi, that very famous urdu poet was born in this same village, and was a mango addict, and when he decided to leave it, wrote a beautiful ghazal, ALWIDA, in memory of the place and its famous mango orchards. The same has been put to tarana/sung by Jagjit singh beautifully but is not a very popular of his ghazals. all in all a mango experience is like experiencing the real north indian summer. Those who haven't do it now guys!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Rashmi,

    Loved reading your Blog, sp this post which took me to my childhood when we use to wait for the "Maliyabadi Dasheri" mangoes from Lucknow to come and then my mom use to make Mango Shake for us which was superb.

    Anyhow now i am in bangalore and last weekend bought Alphonso mangoes from Food world. Somebody in my office also bought mangoes from Salem but then you cannot compare Alphonso Mangoes from Salem ones.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Your article reminded me of the summers I had as a school student, visiting my 'native place' in Kerala. My grand parents had a traditional Kerala style house, complete with pond, mango trees, and more. We used to look forward to the trip. Unfortunately, with the demise of my grand parents, the place was sold....I definitely wouldn't mind paying to relive that experience!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Rashmi: You rock! 2 pertinent points in one cute post!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Chaos,
    There are enough places in central and western UP where you can find langda. I had it last summer on GT Road between Bulandshar and Khurja. It has tons of Baags arround the road.

    ReplyDelete
  22. You brought back memeories 4 me too, As i remember eating (wouldn't use sucking, as it is used in swear-word-only context, though would be more correct here) countless Chausa mangoes during my trips to my native place in Rajasthan. I belive the are still quiet a rage there. now theres no time for the luxury of doing nothing.

    Dusehris and Langdas are available in Mumbai in late summers.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Nitin Karkare summer camp called Mamacha Gavi Jauya - the link is not working. Could you please give the url to the site or their contact numbers? Thanks a ton.

    Arun

    ReplyDelete
  24. Nitin Karkare summer camp called Mamacha Gavi Jauya - the link is not working. Could you please give the url to the site or their contact numbers....

    Thanks lot.

    sandeep

    ReplyDelete
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  26. ^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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